Timothy Keller, Hodder & Stoughton (2015)
I have read many books on prayer, but Keller’s stands head and shoulders above the rest. Prayer is the fruit of his own personal grappling with a realisation his prayer life was inadequate in the face of illness and the experience of pastoring a Manhattan church around the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He writes from a ‘theological, experiential and methodological’ perspective, in a scholarly yet accessible way that demands thought and attention but doesn’t drain the reader.
The book is organised into five sections. Part one, ‘Desiring Prayer’, looks at why we pray. Part two, ‘Understanding Prayer’, gives an overview of the way prayer is understood in various religious and non-religious contexts. It makes the argument that prayer is first and foremost our response to God’s Word. Part three, ‘Learning Prayer’, distils wisdom from three great historical theologians – Augustine, Luther and Calvin – and uses the Lord’s Prayer as a model. Part four, ‘Deepening Prayer’, is about meditation and experiential prayer, and part five, ‘Doing Prayer’, is wonderfully practical.
This is a book for anyone with appetite for deeper knowledge and understanding of prayer. It is a book for those who sense there is more – more to learn and more to experience. Keller writes with a humble authority. He draws from deep wells of academic and personal knowledge of God and his writing is edifying in the truest sense of the word. It is not an easy read, but the work required is worth it.
Reviewed by Jo Swinney